What are our legal rights on non-disclosure in Virginia?

Asked by Jen, 20132 Thu Nov 29, 2012

Our basement recently flooded and in having it repaired, the contracter noted that there was prior flooding damage. This was not disclosed to us. We were also not told that the property was used as a rental. We were told that the pool was closed professionally, it was not and we had to replace several burst pipes. I've tried to contact our agent regarding this, but he is not responding. He was also the sellers agent.

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Chris Block’s answer
Chris Block, , Saint Paul, MN
Thu Nov 29, 2012
At it's most basic sense a property disclosure statement is used to notify a buyer of "ANY MATERIAL FACTS THAT CAN EFFECT THE USE OR ENJOYMENT OF THE PROPERTY".

1) The tough part is proving that the seller INTENTIONALLY lied to you. They are protected in a sense, because sellers are obligated to fill out the form to the best of their knowledge.

2) I agree on the flooding...even if it was fixed properly the seller should disclose this to you. I am not sure about the rental part and why that would be a material fact, but I have never had that one pop up yet.

3) As for the pool are you saying that the seller told you they used a company and lied? Or, that they used a company and they just did a poor job? Why was the pool not properly inspected during your contingency? They are money pits for Minnesota yuck.

Dual agency is brutal for these matters. 9 out of 10 times we usually sign a buyer rep agreement to at least give you some protection if the seller agrees. Most of the time there are no problems unless it comes to this. Regardless the seller always has to disclose everything to the best of their knowledge period.

If you signed "the arbitration form" as part of the PA you elected to use that route instead of small claims court. To start that process is fairly easy, but I agree with everyone best to get a real estate attorney (i can not stress enough the "real estate" part of it) to review the docs for you.

Good luck!

0 votes
Russ Douville, , Saint Paul, MN
Tue Apr 16, 2013

It looks like there are some good answers gere, but I'll throw in my two cents.
When it comes to flooding in the basement (or any other issue) the seller is disclosing issues they are aware of. My grandfather passed away in 1979, and after that my grandmother never went done the basement. When she sold the home there could have been four feet of standing water down there and it wouldn't have been on the disclosure because she wouldn't have known. The property having been used as a rental has no bearing on the present value or use and I don't think that's even on the disclosure form. For the pool, if you can get the name of the company that closed it down, they may guarantee their work, but don't count on it.

Your agent may have represented you if you signed a repesentation contract, and he may have represented the seller as well. But his expertise lies in the buying and selling of real estate, so he may not be an expert in waterproofing, rental history, and pool care.

I would hope you hired a home inspector before making this purchase, and if the inspector missed the evidence of flooding, or problems with the pool plumbing, you may have recourse with the inspector.
0 votes
Tina Lam, Agent, San Jose, CA
Thu Nov 29, 2012
With a dual agency situation like yours, you have a better chance at a claim for non-disclosure by the agent. As for your legal rights, you'll have to discuss that with a real estate attorney who can review your case from a legal perspective.
Web Reference:  http://www.archershomes.com
0 votes
Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Thu Nov 29, 2012
Jen first if he was the sellers agents, unless you signed hiring him as a "dual agent" then he did not represent you, but did have the duty to disclose propertly. it will depend what it states on the seller disclosures and if they lied. you may want to check with a lawyer to get an opinion on what your rights are. If they lied about the pool and basement in writing you may have a case, Oral arguments are hard to prove, so check what is in writing. As far as a rental that is not a disclosable issue.
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